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Proposal to Permit Tattoo Parlors in Hoboken Passes

by Stephanie Spear
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Hoboken has basically everything a person could want — boutiques, restaurants, amazing NYC views, bars — but not tattoo or piercing shops. A 1998 law that banned the establishment of new tattoo parlors in Hoboken is being re-examined, and if one Hoboken City Council member has his way, rewritten. In August 2023, Hoboken city leaders approved a change to permit tattoo parlors in Hoboken. Read on to learn more about the changes made to permit tattoo parlors in Hoboken.

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About the Old Law

A 1998 law prohibited the establishment of tattoo businesses in Hoboken. The law was written under the guise of protecting residents from the ‘dangers of tattooing.’

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Hoboken Body Art, located at 107 10th Street, was the City’s only tattoo shop for many years until its closure in January 2023. Hoboken Body Art was located in Hoboken’s 5th Ward, represented by Councilman Phil Cohen.

In an email to constituents, Councilman Cohen said that he was both inspired and frustrated by Hoboken Body Art’s closure. “After seeing many tributes to Hoboken Body Art, I learned that in 1998 the City Council banned new tattoo parlors from opening, but “grandfathered” existing establishments — like Hoboken Body Art. The Council’s 1998 tattoo parlor ban reflects an era when both tattoo parlors and their customers were stigmatized. As a Trustee on the Hoboken Business Alliance, and recognizing that Hoboken Body Art operated as a good neighbor for many years next to Anthony David’s Restaurant — one of the fine dining establishments in our City — I worked with the Corporation Counsel’s office to create these two ordinances.”

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What’s Changing

Hoboken Councilman Phil Cohen introduced two ordinances at the July 12th council meeting proposing to permit tattoo parlors to operate in Hoboken’s commercial districts and to update the city’s zoning code to determine where the new businesses could go.

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The ordinances passed on first reading at the July 12th Council meeting. They are now up for a second reading at tonight’s City Council meeting. Should the ordinances be approved, they would take place 20 days after signature by Mayor Bhalla. 

The ordinance’s language includes tattooing, body piercing, and permanent makeup services. Each facility and service provider must be appropriately licensed, have all fees paid, and have inspections passed in order to do business. Councilman Cohen said, “[The law] is no longer titled “Tattoo Parlors” but instead it is called “Tattoo, Body piercing, and Body Art Establishments”. The new ordinances, thus body art or permanent cosmetic applications at beauty salons, in addition to stand-alone tattoo parlors. So it is possible that existing establishments will be able to now legally perform additional services for their customers that previously had been banned.” 

The second ordinance deals with zoning and would permit body art establishments in areas zoned C-1 and C-2, and conditional use in zone C-3. The number of tattoo parlors is not limited.

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The Hoboken City Council approved the proposal at its August 23rd, 2023 meeting. Per TapInto Hoboken, the vote was unanimous. There was also a unanimous vote for a related proposal updating the zoning requirements for these businesses. 

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